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The Lebanese “Meza”, a Festive Gastronomy

BEIRUT | iloubnan.info - September 15, 2015, 22h40
Par Sara Lebbos
 Lebanese meza rucola thyme Salad Jalleb
Plates of traditional Lebanese salad fattouch and tabbouleh on a rustic background

There are two “types” of Lebanese cuisines: the one proposed on holidays, and the one we taste on weekdays with our family.

This festive cuisine is particularly illustrated by the meza, which is the idea we have on the Lebanese cuisine in the world. It consists of an assortment of about thirty hot and cold plates all presented at the same time and from which each one grabs his own share.

The most famous plates in the meza are: The two salads called tabboulé and fattouch; the purées of chickpea and eggplants called hommos and mtabbal; the Crammed vine leaves, and little fritters like sambousseks.

But for all the gourmands, pay attention: we always tend to eat a lot of meza and forget that it is only the starter, and that the rest of the meal requires a lot of our appetite!

Cold Mezas…

Tabboulé: It is one of the most famous Lebanese traditional plates. Tabboulé is a typical Lebanese specialty. Among other ingredients, Tabboulé is made of Bourghol (crushed wheat) and not of couscous semolina like it is done in a lot of cases!
It is very amusing to observe that the harmony of this recipe is threatened if one of its components is neglected, just like the Lebanese nation! Moreover, the colors of this plate (green, white, and red) are those of the Lebanese flag!
To taste the tabboulé, you must put a little bit of this salad in a peace of sprout, in a vine leaf, or even in a little Lebanese bread cone…
Lebanese Meza: Tabboulé
Fattouch: Fattouch is also a refreshing salad that differs according to the region. In all cases, it is an assortment of vegetables like: lettuce, radish, tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, and mint (grilled eggplants and pepper are optional). You can even add Sumak, a red spice with acid taste. Fattouch is often served with little pieces of Lebanese grilled or fried bread.

Hommos: Hommos is a purée made of chickpea and sesame oil (Tehini). It is often served with little gables of fried pine on its top. We can grab it with a little piece of Lebanese bread. It can also be pleasantly accompanied by grilled meat.

Hommos, Baba Ghannouj, Moutabbal

Baba Ghannouj or Moutabbal: The Moutabbal or Baba Ghannouj consists of an eggplant purée mixed with sesame cream called Tahina. The moutabbal is a real pleasure due to its taste or appearance. It is well known for its sweet taste and creamy texture. In the traditional way, baba ghannouj is served with Lebanese bread and pickles called kabiss in Arabic (vegetables marinated in vinegar).

Kebbe Naye: It consists of a fine ground beef mixed with crushed wheat, onion, spices, and herbs. The Kebbe naye is a must in the Lebanese cuisine. We can also taste it with a piece of bread, and a little bit of olive oil.

Chenklich: The cheese Chanklich is served with olive oil and herbs like thyme, as well as onions and little cubes of tomatoes. There are two sorts of Chanklich: the spicy and the non spicy. But the two varieties are rather salty or very salty.

Hot Meza…

Falafels: The falafels are a traditional vegetarian specialty. They are quite famous in the ancient and recent Middle East, especially in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Israel, and Egypt. However, the falafel ingredients differ from a country to another. In fact, this plate has three variants:

In Lebanon, falafels are round pellets made of chickpea and broad bean, mixed with an aromatic plant: coriander fried with vegetable oil.

Falafel

In Egypt, the falafel pellets are made exclusively of fried broad bean purée.

In Israel, this plate is made of a chickpea purée (always fried) without broad bean.

Falafel has two great assets: it includes only around 300 calories per 100 grams, and it is above all economical. On the traditional way, falafels are served in Lebanese bread sandwiches, with Tahina sauce (made of sesame cream and parsley), as well as tomatoes, lettuce, and onions. The red or green spices as well as the pickles are adequate to this Mediterranean specialty. This meal is served with the other meza plates, and we can taste it with a little cone of Lebanese bread as well as the same supplements mentioned before.

Sambousecks: Sambousecks are little pieces filled with Selk (overripe) or kechk (a delicious yogurt that is fermented, dried, and then reduced into powder). You can grab them with your fingers!

Tags
#LebaneseMeza, #LebaneseFood
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